Search Strategies

Use these search tips to find the articles you need for your research paper and projects.

These tips can also be used for better Internet searching too!

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What is a keyword? 

A word used as a reference point for finding other words or information.

“Keyword Also Key Word.” The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. Eds. The Editors of the American Heritage Dictionaries. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2011. Credo Reference. Web. 3 June 2015.

Why do I want to use them?

Keywords are the main words of your topic.  They help you find research in the world of information.

Keyword Tips:

  • Use academic or professional language when you are conducting research in order to find the most scholarly materials on your topic.
  • Avoid unnecessary words like effect, affect, study, research or journal when searching library databases.
  • Put quotation marks around your words to search as an exact phrase
    • climate change
  • Use an asterisk to search for words with similar endings.
    • teen* would find teen, teens, teenage, teenager, teenaged.
  • Use a question mark or hashtag symbol to search for similarly spelled words at the same time
    • woman and women (wom#n, wom?n).
    • Databases tend to use the question mark; search engines the hashtag symbol.

Boolean Operators:

  • Use AND to combine your main keywords together. This happens automatically in search engines.
    • “Lake Erie” AND “climate change”.
  • Use OR in databases and web searching to search for two words that can be used interchangeably.
    • neonate OR infant OR newborn
  • Use NOT to eliminate a word or topic from your search. Many search engines use a minus sign (-) to eliminate words.
    • vaccines NOT autism